It seems as though BYD will not only be a rival to Tesla, but also one of its suppliers.
According to Reuters, Lian Yubo, a BYD executive vice president and the company’s former head of engineering, told China’s state-run English-language TV news network CGTN, “We are now good friends with Elon Musk because we are preparing to supply batteries to Tesla very soon”.
Neither company has confirmed the executive’s remarks, and it’s unclear when BYD’s batteries will begin showing up Tesla vehicles.
It has also yet to be confirmed what battery type BYD will produce for Tesla, but it’s possible it will be the Blade lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) battery BYD launched in 2020.
Tesla’s Australian arm sources the Model 3 from Shanghai, and will do the same for the Model Y, which is yet to be available locally but was recently spotted on the back of a car carrier in Victoria.
LFP batteries are cheaper to produce, safer in the event of an accident, and minimise the use of rare earth metals, such as nickel and cobalt.
On the flip side, LFP battery packs are less energy dense than the nickel-based lithium-ion units installed in made-in-the-USA Tesla models.
BYD’s Blade LFP batteries are currently fitted to the company’s own Han electric sedan and Tang crossover.
Although a number of BYD’s early vehicles gained notoriety for their Toyota-inspired designs, the company now has partnerships with Mercedes-Benz and Toyota.
Recently BYD announced it had ended production of non-electrified vehicles, concentrating solely on plug-in hybrids and EVs.